In case you were feeling nostalgic for the old Soviet days…

If you happen to be in Lithuania, have $220 you’d like to throw in the toilet, and have a burning nostalgia to be reminded of the good old days under Soviet rule, I have quite a deal for you.

In an article titled “The Un-Funnest Vacation in Europe,” Mental Floss reports that the Lithuanians have decided to convert an old Soviet bunker into a tourist attraction for those who have a very strange definition of “tourism” and “fun.”

The so-called fun lasts for two and a half hours and includes the following activities:

“On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker. Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.”

In case you worried that doesn’t sound fun enough as it is, the article reassures potential masochistic tourists that “all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators.” Well, thank goodness for that.  I wouldn’t want some poseur as my interrogator for the day!

Apparently when school groups come though, the actors know to “cool it” and not go too rough in the re-enacted KGB interrogations [note: what kind of hellish school administrator thought of this as a good activity?]

Afterward you at least get a shot of vodka and your belongings back (the latter is a guess; if the experience truly hewed to reality though I would think some valuables would be missing).

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ahh, the good old days..

Mexico City’s government gives a squat

Good lord. Mexico city has decided to fight obesity by giving people a 5 peso metro token for doing 10 squats. Really.

No, really.

They have installed 30 squat monitoring machines some of the stations. Did I mention that 4,000,000 people ride the subway in the D.F. every day? And that the stations can tend to get a bit crowded?

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People, would 10 squats a day really to anything with weight control? In Russia, the price of a free ticket is 30 squats in under two minutes.

The D.F. government is also giving away 80,000 pedometers. Again, there are 4,000,000 riders every day.

As always, it is so gratifying to me to see a government finding simple, effective solutions to seemingly complex problems.

News of the Weird, Latin American Edition

There are so many contenders, but here are a few of my favorites.

1. I’m all in favor of human rights marches in Mexico, on pressuring the government for answers to the murdered students, but this march needs to look a little harder for role models:

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h/t Compa Cesángari (@Censangari) and Alejandro Hope (@ahope71)

2. I recognize that the US has a terrible track record in unsolicited Latin American political interventions, but I think it’s necessary to recognize that governments can screw up their economics (and politics) all on their own.  Not everything is driven by the US.  Evo Morales disagrees.  He blames the recent death of the crusading prosecutor in Argentina on the US, saying it was an ambush against comrade Cristina.  Here are his exact words:

“Cuando fracasan con una agresión económica a la Argentina, ahora preparan una agresión política, como una emboscada a la compañera Cristina con la muerte del fiscal”, dijo el mandatario tras repasar lo que consideró “un triunfo” de nuestro país contra los fondos buitre. Ya no pueden hacer golpes de Estado, ya no pueden dominarnos militarmente, entonces buscan otras formas de golpe, de escarmiento, de amedrentamiento, especialmente a los presidentes antiimperialistas”.

(rough translation: “After they have failed with their economic agresión against Argentina, they now are preparing political aggression with an ambush.  They can no longer orchestrate coups d’etat, they can no longer dominate us militarily, so they look for other kinds of blows, such as scarcity, of fright, especially against anti-imperialist presidents.”  Note to readers: simply replace the word “they” with “the United States” and you will get the gist). @viaSimonRomero

EPN, or at least his hair, is unflappable

As more corruption allegations arise, El Presidente seems relatively unruffled, or at least his hair does.  In a very funny, and very important, article, Rafa Fernandez de Castro asks “How does the Mexican president get his hair to look so flawless?

Rafa notes that EPN has lego hair; that is, hair that apparently adheres to the US postal service creed (“neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”).  Here is the lego version:

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The infamous cowlick became a motif when EPN was running for president.  Here are some of his supporters demonstrating their follicular affinity:

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As opposition has mounted to his presidency, the famous coif is now being used against him:

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The public has also taken to social media to debate how he maintains such perfectly coiffed hair.  Responding to a photo of EPN finishing a race, one tweeter wrote: “The cowlick is INTACT [sic] please let us know what gel he uses.

Others hypothesize that he has an acrylic helmet, a wig, or perhaps just glues his hair in place.  I imagine him having a whole row of acrylic helmets on a shelf, just in case.  If only he spent half as much time on issues like murdered students, Mexico might be doing a lot better from a human rights perspective.

I got your SOTU right here: Venezuelan Edition

While President Obama was piddling around with a mere 59 minute 57 second SOTU, Knuckles Maduro was keeping’ it real with a 3 hour address!

The killer was when Knucky acknowledged that oil prices were unlikely to rebound soon but assured his constituents that “God will provide”.

God however turns out to be pretty stingy as Maduro announced a 15% rise in wages and pensions. That would be sweet, except that Inflation in Venezuela is at least 65% and likely over 100%.

Besides showing triple the stamina, Knuckles absolutely crushed Obama on the sartorial front. See for your ownselves:

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